As I mentioned, I had to advance time a bit, and the party the chance to meet with the local sage, Julian, who was a font of information on the Terror Dungeon and its workings. This was tidbits the other group had picked up and what I considered to be "common" knowledge. Details would still have to be gotten by the group.
And they had a chance to pass through the first of the Stolen Kingdoms, Canaslan, Run by Seljack of Madar - a one time sellsword and mercenary who would spend most of his earnings on the finest drink, the bawdiest of wenches, and the most latest of fashions - only to run out of coin and have to go adventuring again.
The land literary stinks of beer, body odor, and sweat.
Write up follows:
The following morning we split into two groups, a “delving” group that was going to head to Bork Keep and make our first foray into the Terror Dungeon, and a “surface” group that was going to report to the Greater Rand Sellsword and Adventuring Guild to establish potential residence and see what work can be garnered to support half of us while we were local.
The Delving Group resulted in Sybil (Halfling thief), Negan (half ogre Fighter Cleric to Odin), Darius (human fighter (slinger), Grygmier (dwarvish ranger), Avulstein (half orc (now!) tested wizard (earth)), Connal (human monk to Sif), and Brading (dwarvish cleric to Heimdal). After eating breakfast at the Flying Pegasus, we travelled off to the western section of town for the Records and Sage district where we managed to get to Julian the Sage’s Tower. 4 stories tall, 40’ diameter, short wall surrounding the property and an herb garden being tended by a gnome gardener.
We introduced ourselves, gave a copy of our charter and showed our silver pins from the GRSAG and then were escorted in. Shoes and weapons were removed as we came into the tower proper. There was a white carpet, crystal curtain, and rows of books near a low table. A small amount of wine was dispensed to each person and Julian (human, male, 50’s, thin, fading hair) took time welcoming the party and then asking them what they hoped to get out of the Terror Dungeon and why they were doing this.
We answered him with a variety of reasons and Julian seemed ok with them all. He then gave us his opinion of the Terror Dungeon and some of the history. Bork Keep was about 300 years old and built for the Randari Emperor at that time by Daroken Dwarves who were invited to do the job by Nightwood Gnomes. It took 4 years and the Gorokian Dwarves were upset about it and refused to supply any of the stone except at the very end of the construction.
The Keep was positioned at Bork Lake as a deterrent for raiding lizardmen from the Starlitzian lizard tribes across the river. During the Randari/Dwarven war the keep was sacked but in the interim years it has been helmed by most recently a Lord Corface Bork (most likely not descended from the original owners) who has had its compliment of people rise and acts as a training ground for up and coming knights and men at arms.
The Terror Dungeon opened up 15 years ago when they were digging a deeper base for the wine cellar and its presence appearing now is not normal. There are other deeper wells and locations dug in and around the Keep – but at the time of the Dungeon Appearing, there have been no deep shafts possibly dug since then.
Julian wants whatever original writings can be found in the Dungeon. There is a mention (7 times) of a being referred to as Dragodon in whatever documents he’s has the luxury of looking at. There are many reasons why the Dungeon is here now and lots of theories – but he believes something is coming, and the dungeon is acting as a crucible – want to be heroes are going in, and only the best of them come out alive and better equipped to defeat powerful foes. Why?
He also gave us a brief on the Stolen Kingdoms, the Dozen Kingdoms, the Sovereign Lands – those places that have become “flipped” by powerful adventurers who have plumbed some of the deepest depths and gotten into some of the secretive areas of the dungeon warded by glyphs that make entrance difficult at best. We would have to pass through Canaslan, the 2nd such kingdom and its principle city of Paxian on our way to the Keep.
We left the Sage and did some shopping in the south section of town where many general shops were located not too far from an orcish slum. Everyone loaded up on ropes, spikes, hammers, etc…getting themselves as ready as possible for the trip to Bork Keep. We rested that night excited and nervous and got a good rest for our last day at the Flying Pegasus.
The next morn on Spiritmonth the 7th we were off and took the 10+ hour walk from Erylond to Bork Keep. It was cool, mid 40’s, but clear. Around 2 PM we passed through some sort of disturbance in the air and found ourselves in the stolen kingdom of Canaslan. The air had a warmer feel to it, there was an odor of beer and sweat in the air. The road seemed in poorer condition and many of the farms we passed had poorly planted fields. Drunkenness seemed rampant, along with sloth and merriment. Although we didn’t go to Paxian, we could see it in the distance off the road to the north. Walled city, slummy looking homes, VERY NICE gleaming castle.
It was about 5 PM when we emerged from the other side of the kingdom and were back on the normal road. Bork Keep could be seen in the distance. The land rose here about 50’ with the Erylond (Enderlyn further upstream) River burbling into the wide lake (3 miles by 6 miles). The land around the keep to the north was regimented farmlands and demesnes, all in good shape and repair. The keep itself had a tall outer wall, four towers and a barbican, and then another inner wall also warded with 4 towers.
A group of armigers arrived on horseback, pennants flying, lanced held at parade rest. We were welcomed to Bork Keep and told to be on our best behavior. Bows and crossbows MUST be unstrung in the Keep and weapons SHOULD be sheathed. There are craftsman and resellers to be found and there are two barracks at the north end of the Keep near the Dungeon Entrance where adventurers stay. We were told NOT to fuck with the rules and theft was considered to be the height of folly.
Once inside we had a chance to go through the well thought out and regimented Keep. The place was clean, had to be a few hundred people living in the keep itself. The back end of the Keep where we were heading was in good repair and there were two barracks, we took the left one that had a hitching post with a cart laden and tarped down, and a few ponies and mules. Avulstein went to go look at the cart when Darius was all over him to leave well enough alone.
We went inside and were welcomed by a group of 12 or so people, 8 of which were part of an adventuring group called the Unseen Hand. They had just spent a week or so in the Dungeon, lost two of their members, but had gone in Cleric Heavy this time (around 3rd/4th level) and made a payday of at least 40-50 lbs of treasure based upon what they showed us as well as other gear they had strapped to the cart outside.
We talked a bit, he told us that we should find the Glyph Gate on the north side of the 1st level and get a Brass Chime – if you are at a set of stairs and it’s not the right time, the Chime will summon the exit for 2 minutes allowing the party to leave before it snaps back to its original location. Suggested it’s worth our time to do so because hanging out at an exit and hoping for the best was a good way to be eaten by a Grue.
We shared our drink and food, he did the same, and we were going to see Lord Bork to bid our hello and get a rune stone to allow us entrance to the Dungeon.